Thursday, February 24, 2005

They Destroy, They Do Not Terrify

Posted by Hello


Politics has nothing to do with it.

Marketing uses words. Even in war and insurgency, words are used. But are the words used correctly?

This is simply a critique of the word "terrorist" as applied to those who destroy, maim, and kill as a means of accomplishing their goals.

I have seen "terrorists" who were unable to stop a fledgling democracy from holding free elections. Insufficient "terror" was generated.

I have seen "terrorists" who were shocked to discover that U.S. Marines run toward shots that are fired, and not away from them.

I have seen women bravely attend school in lands where such an act by the allegedly "inferior gender" used to be punishable by death.

I have seen "terrorists" who began to kill women and children, who occupied a school building, who kidnap defenseless civilians.

I have seen "terrorists" hide behind scarves and masks, afraid to reveal their identities.

I have seen average civilians, surrounded and infested by "terrorists", stand in line to vote, and look into television cameras, with no disguises or concealment of faces.

I wonder who is truly terrified and who is simply hoping to cause terror.

This use of "terror" and "terrorist" may be very inappropriate.

We do not call someone a surgeon if they've never operated on anyone.

We do not call someone a chef if they've never cooked anything.

So why do we call someone a "terrorist" if they fail to inspire terror?

If a person kills, that's a killer.

If a person rapes, that's a rapist.

If a person destroys, blows things up, but fails to scare people, that's a destructionist, not a terrorist.

The Main Stream Media (MSM) seems to like saying that beheading videos or threats of nuclear attack "strike fear into our hearts." Not my heart. I have had zero fear ever since 9-11. I'm more observant, more skeptical, more suspicious, but not more fearful.

Not one person I know, including soldiers in Iraq, is "terrorized" by anyone. If shots are fired, they have a healthy "fear", or actually the better word is "avoidance reaction", to being an easy target. They don't cringe in cowardly terror. They get angry and fight back.

"Fear" and "terror" are not operative in much of the world. Governments may give in to "terrorist" demands out of concerns for public opinion, but I doubt that even weak governments have much real "fear". The only thing they fear is civil war, or not getting elected again.

I will not refer to those who kill civilians and blow up buildings as "terrorists", since they fail to cause much terror.

I prefer to refer to them as "destructionists".

Why glorify them by granting them a title they have not earned, and thus do not deserve?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Lightning Strikers Manifesto


LiStriMani. Copyright 2005 by Steven Streight. Created in Paint Shop Pro 7. Posted by Hello

Against Guy Kawasaki's Marketing Mediocrity

I just read a bizarre post on a blog, a post that spoke of the "Don't Worry, Be Crappy" theory of marketing.

This idea is declared in Rules for Revolutionaries(1999) by Guy Kawasaki.

Is this the old "put out the flawed product, hype it like crazy, and generate enough hysteria that you'll sell tons of it before anybody knows what's really going on"?

You bet it is.

One aspect of it is the attitude of "Who cares if the product is junk? Hype it and hard sell it."

Generate fast revenues from it, then, at your leisure, after many duped customers have invested heavily in the crap product, issue "patches", "fixes", "add-ons", or "upgrades" that fix the flaws, using the income derived from the shoddy product.

It's the opposite of "Disciplined product development process and the refusal to ship crap."

As my web developer discussion list friend, Peter McGregor stated in a recent post:

I recall way back in the early 1980s when the first PCs appeared and software for them was not plentiful, someone (who shall be nameless) telling me:

"If you write a program for the PC and place a small advert for it in the pages of Byte Magazine, (circulation was huge both sides of the pond) even if is riddled with bugs, you'll have 100k responses within a couple of weeks. Charge $10 a time for your offering CWO and you then cut and run as a rich man before anyone realises it isn't that good a product!"

Yes, a small percentage of a large base can be very profitable. (Sometimes wish I'd followed the advice - but at least I can live with my conscience!!)

---Peter MacGregor (used with permission).

This "Don't worry, be crappy" concept is the single most vile, self-destructive, anti-consumer, pro-mediocrity concept to hit marketing in probably the last 50 to 100 years.

Let's take a closer look at this "real piece of work" of misguided Marketing Stupidity.

Here's what Joe Agliozzo, over at Disruptive Business Models blog, says about releasing defective, shoddy, poor workmanship, dysfunctional, or bare minimum function, bug-ridden products to the consumer:

What you lose in "polish" and "presentation" along with some functionality is more than made up for in finding out (1) whether the customers are interested in buying what you are selling and (2) what you forgot about that customers actually need.

No matter how much thinking the team does on product features, customers will always come up with different or additional stuff that they have to have and they will let you know about it.

Of course, you always have to reach out to your customer base and communicate that your product is under development and needs more work, you want to partner with the customer in making the best product possible, etc. Don't claim your product is perfect when you know it is not, be humble.

Heaven forbid that the pharmaceutical companies follow this "crap product" release idea.

Or the automobile airbag manufacturers.

Or the vehicle child safety seat manufacturers.

Or railroads.

Or any product or service related to public safety and health. Which means most products and services, except for pure entertainment.

"Be crappy" with software and computer products?

Well, they tie in with national defense, food distribution systems, nuclear reactor regulation, etc.

See the PC World "What's Biggest Security Problem?" article, the third subhead, "Holey Software" at:

Here's what I recently added to the Wikipedia entry on Guy Kawasaki:

[UPDATE EDIT Sunday Feb. 13, 2005: Wikipedia administrators deleted my comments. So if you follow the link, and don't see my statements as provided below, it's not because I lied. It's because they removed my wiki edit.]

Some of Kawasaki's ideas are not accepted by experienced direct marketers or consumer advocates.

For example, in Rules for Revolutionaries he advances the controversial principle of "Don't Worry, Be Crappy" in which he encourages companies to release shoddy, buggy, dysfunctional or barely functional "crap" products to the consumer. The hope is that the consumers will then forgive the company, send in their specs for improvement, and eagerly await the new improved version. Some consider this the "dumbing down" of beta testing and sheer marketing suicide, since it ignores negative word of mouth advertising by "chumped" customers.

"Ship shoddy, but ship first" can also be open to allegations of false advertising. Also, it is not universally valid to state that "first in the marketplace" equates to "market dominance" or the lion's share of all potential sales. Many leading brands were not the first in the marketplace with an offering in a specific product category.

This "be crappy" seems bass ackwards to me.

Worse, it sounds misanthropic.

Talk about betraying the trust of your customer base!

This is definitely *not* "mentally correct marketing".

It sounds like "marketing suicide for dummies."

The dumbing down of beta testing.

Beta versions should ideally not be sold, but distributed free to typical, representative users, who provide feedback on bugs and malfunctions.

Beta testers then ought to be altruistically offered a steep discount on the improved version, prior to general release of the mass distribution/improved product to the general public.

This "Be Crappy" approach to product development and distribution blatantly ignores the devastating effects of "word of mouth" advertising by angry, disgruntled, cynical customers who have been "taken" and "suckered" by a "crap" product.

No way will customers send complaints to the manufacturer, wait for the manufacturer to supposedly fix the product, then rush out to buy the new, improved version of the "crappy" product.

What idiotic dream world is this, where customers forgive a provider for gross, intentional foisting of bad products on them?

I buy a "crap" product once and I never go back and buy anything from that manufacturer ever again.

Screw me once, and I hate you forever. There are too many competing products and brands out there to muck around with a loser.

From what I hear proclaimed about his theories, in my opinion, Guy Kawasaki knows NOTHING about marketing or consumer psychology.

NetMarketing, No. 54, December 18, 2000 quotes Gerry McGovern's article of December 1l, 2000 "In Praise of Simplicity":

The technology industry is a speed addict.

The only thing that matters for many companies is to get the product to market before the competition, regardless of whether it works or not. Ship then test. The consumer is not happy [with such shoddy, fault-ridden tech products].

So now let me introduce you to the very opposite of "Don't Worry, Be Crappy" marketing strategy...

The Lightning Strikers Manifesto

(1.) Find out what customers want, before you create and release a product into the marketplace.

(2.) Test the usability and desirability of the product, before you release it to the public.

(3.) Use instant intuition where accumulated facts and data are lacking.

(4.) Once you have the most perfect possible product, based on customer needs (Deming's "voice of the customer") and manufacturing capabilities (Deming's "voice of the process"), strike like lightning with it.

Like lightning, hit the market with your perfect as possible product.

Like lightning, hit the public consciousness, the main stream media, the blogosphere, whatever, with accurate, enthusiastic information about your as perfect as possible product.

Like lightning, hit the competition with sales of your perfect as possible product, taking market share away from them.

Listen to the thunder of customer applause, critical reviewer raves, and competitive groans.

(5.) Reject the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" mindset of mediocrity. Like lightning, speedily seek weak spots, improvement points, enhancement exciters in your product before the competition does. Constantly seek to find new and better versions of your as perfect as possible product.

(6.) To produce a "good enough" product is to invite the total and irreversible loss of credibility. Once the consumers form a mindset, a belief, a conviction that your products are junk, inferior, or faulty, expect a horrendous, nearly impossible uphill battle to change that perception.

(7.) "Don't Be Blurry, Be Snappy" is a better slogan for those who would destroy the competition and win the hearts and minds of customers. Don't have an unfocused image of the ideal product and settle for an lesser version. Be "snappy", have quick response to verified customer needs and manufacturing capabilities.

(8.) Instant Perfection and Immediate Dominance does occur. Aim for this, and if you fall a bit short, if you must make a gradual progression toward it, at least your target is admirable and worthy of the best thinking you can generate.

(9.) Never release to the public a product that you know is not as good as it could be. Never treat the marketplace like a focus group. When you release a "crappy" product to the customer, you're expecting them to buy something so you can learn more about it. Treat customers like "guinea pigs" and they'll let you wallow in the mud of shame,failure, and poverty.

(10.) Think: is this product, and marketing/distribution strategy, altruistic/philanthropic (i.e., good for others, with others as the priority, but also, therefore, ultimately, eventually, inevitably good for me too)...or narcissistic/misanthropic (i.e., good for me, but detrimental to others).

We have enough "crap" products, "junk" food, "garbage" television, "toxic" politics, and "dysfunctional" family relationships.

Don't dump more waste material on this planet, on sentient beings, or on your precious customers.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Donald Trump and Mentally Correct Marketing


"what the sea cucumber said to the soup" (Copyright 2005 Steven Streight. Created in Paint Shop Pro 7.) Posted by Hello

Donald Trump and Mentally Correct Marketing

By now, everybody's buzzing about last night's episode of The Apprentice, the reality television show on NBC.

The Apprentice features Donald Trump, marketing and business operations project assignments, and a bunch of losers who try to act managerial and intelligent.

For a great recap of The Apprentice Dove Commercial episode, and a brilliantly short and coherent URL query string attached to it (other web masters please take note, especially online newspapers), please rush over right now (I'll wait for you to read and then return to this blog) to:


When the two slacker project teams tried to put together a tv commercial for new Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash, they failed, predictably, miserably.

Donny Deutsch said they had to be crazy to make commercials that stupid.

Cucumbers, token gay lovers (admittedly based on "Will & Grace" which does NOT portray the reality of most gay men, who don't hang all over women like they're hetero coupling), street race runners, sweat and towels.

In one "commercial," I thought I was watching the Subhuman Special Olympics Parody on Saturday Night Live or Mr. Show.

In the other "commercial," I thought I was in dilapidated dork brothel, or some no-budget, no-imagination, satirical, wanker-core porn movie set.

Here's what the NBC recap states:

The first thing out of Donny's mouth was the team can't wear goofy outfits and be taken seriously.

So Donny made them take off their hats. Then Donny and the two managing partners watched Magna's commercial.

Donny shook his head, but made no comment. He thanked the team and sent them out. Next, Net Worth presented their commercial. Donny thanked the group and sent them out.

Donny started the discussion with his two managing partners by saying that he was really disappointed. He thought that both commercials were "silly", "stupid" and "off". Both executives agreed.

One said that the choice was between a disgusting commercial where a sweaty runner rubs on body wash without using any water and a semi-porn piece.

Donny brought both teams back into the conference room and got Trump on the line. Donny pulled no punches and said that both teams "missed big." He had to tell Trump that there was no winner - an Apprentice first!

So, Trump responded with his own first and said that both teams would return to the boardroom to face him and someone would be fired.

Such wretchedly awful advertising and marketing incompetence!

The likes of which neither Dons had ever seen before.

And yet...forgive me for being so hard on the project teams. They had no experience in advertising or television. Why did anyone think they could avoid a total disaster?

This "make a tv commercial for Dove" was really just a "3D" publicity stunt: for Dove, Deutsch, and the Donald.

The worst commercial was the Deutsch spot. They are a real ad agency. And they still blew it bad.

You can't sell soap with dancing, smiling, and Miss Piggy.

What's so hard about advertising?

We're all experts at it, since we have consumed millions of radio and televison commercials,print ads, and junk mail since babyhood.

We have all formed opinions and discussed commercials with friends and co-workers. Those slackers on The Apprentice should have not been utterly clueless dolts.

No one had the guts to say, "This sucks. We cannot go through with this. We'd be better off doing nothing and apologizing, than doing something this brain dead."

I used to turn the volume OFF on the tv programs, and ON during commercials, when I was in my 20s and trying to study advertising. An ex-girlfriend named Molly can vouch for this, and she still giggles about it.

The Apprentice aired the actual Dove commercial produced by the ad agency, and I have to speak my mind here again: it sucked too.

Very trite, unimaginative, pointless.

Was that Miss Piggy? Who cares about Sesame Street or whatever Miss Piggy stars in?

This commercial contains no solid, problem-solving or benefit-providing message, no dramatized reason to buy the Dove product, and I would not have signed off on it.

Here's what I posted on the "Ad Rants" ( blog site:

Deutsch should have dramatized dry, rough, itchy skin. Seth Godin says you have to explain the problem to most consumers before you can offer the solution and make the solution attractive. I agree. There are lots of ways to dramatize what it is that the Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash provides as a benefit. But too many pseudo-ad types think: "Let's have fun with the product. Let's have people dancing and smiling. Let's show happiness and imply that the product ultimately enhances happiness." So the problem and the product's unique solution get lost in the haze of stupid theatrics, music, costumes, Miss Piggy, and other brain dead idiot ideas--in the name of "fun."

How To Produce an Advertising Concept

Just look at the product.

Look at the problem it solves.

Look at the benefit it provides.

Think about why people need
that solution or benefit.

Think about what it's like
to NOT have that
solution or benefit.

Think of a good way to convey how
the product solves the problem
or how it provides a benefit...

...and why this product
is ideal and necessary NOW.

[That's the hard, but fun part.]

Streight Site Systems
Mentally Correct Marketing Version of a
Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash commercial

Take One:

A guy takes a gal on a date.

Everything is romantic and wonderful.

He goes to brush a crumb off her bare arm.

His hand starts bleeding, scraped by the rough skin.

He looks in shock and horrror as the gal begins
to turn into a Sandpaper & Barbed Wire Monster.

He runs for his life, dripping blood.

Dove Moisturizing Body Wash.
Antidote to dangerously dry skin.
Soften YOUR world...with Dove.


You could do all sorts of things
to dramatize dry skin.

Criminally dry skin.

Monstrously dry skin.

Embarrassingly itchy dry skin.

Dry skin that itches at
inopportune moments.

That's it.

Dove will have to pay me
to learn more.

My wife had an even better idea
for the commercial, but it'll
cost you to hear it, Dove.

BTW, Dove shampoo, conditioner,
and shower gel liquid soap stuff
are incredible.

I highly recommend
all Dove products.

Now if only somebody would do
some astonishingly smart and
effective television commercials.

Like EarthLink.

Like that financial company
(Edward Jones, I think)
commercial where the therapist
speaks a foreign language to
the mental problem "client".

(It must not be that good,
however, if I can't recall
the company name, some broker?)

Donald Trump:

"Mediocrity is always
due to laziness,
the refusal to go
the extra mile."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Selling the "Pre-sold" Customer


First, let me explain what led up to the uproar over the issue of allegedly "pre-sold" ecommerce web site visitors.

The Law of Promo Photos

In a certain internet-based forum of mutual technical assistance, and occasional heated debate, I recently read a statement that amazed me.

I had stipulated in that forum that in direct marketing, it is a proven fact, based on numerous A/B split tests, that photos in advertising and sales material should show:


In use by customer.

Solving a problem.


Providing a benefit.


Enhancing someone's life.

Again: show typical users as they use the product, or obviously just finished using the product, to accomplish some specific goal.

Never just show the corporate office building, or a flagship product, or the entire line of products.

Those photos can come later, somewhere within the promotional/sales material, but not upfront and dominant.

When Product in Use photos were tested against Product Alone photos, in measurable direct response test situations, the Product in Use photos always produced greater customer response than the Product Alone photos.

There are exceptions, especially for universally known brands and products, like Coca Cola, IBM, or Madonna.

For some products or services, it may be difficult or impossible to show them being used by the customer. But in most cases a little imagination, plus knowledge of the customer, is all that's needed to come up with some type of product benefit image.

Application of Promo Photo Law
to Web Sites

I believe that this general guideline applies to web sites also.

A web site performs many functions for a company.

It can POTENTIALLY act as a virtual product showcase, corporate receptionist, advertising billboard, salesperson, brochure, catalog, order form processor, distribution point, PR agent, customer service department, etc.

The Comment That
Freaked Me Out

So, in the midst of debating these principles, my importation of database direct marketing principles into the realm of ecommerce applications at web sites, this comment occurred [paraphrased slightly, not the exact quote]:

"People visit an ecommerce web site to get information about the product. They already know they need an item, so they just want to know what the site has to offer in that product line. Photos of products are sufficient. The site visitor doesn't need a full sales pitch. He or she is already sold."

See that pile of hair on the floor?

It's okay, believe me.

I'll grow more eventually, to replace what I tore out.

Selling and Overcoming Buyer's Remorse
of "Pre-sold" Customers

"Pre-sold" customers visiting ecommerce web sites?

That's ill considered, unintentionally negligent, and abundantly disproven.

Remember the dot com bust in the 1990s?

That was one of the detrimental, self-defeating assumptions that caused so many ecommerce "web presences" to sink and disappear forever.

You must NEVER assume any customer or prospect is "pre-sold".

They don't visit your site eager and ready to part with their hard-earned money. A certain percentage of web site visitors may be wanting to quickly pick out appropriate or desired products and proceed to the virtual check out counter...but never assume that all visitors are so disposed.

Even if a web visitor is "pre-sold", what about upselling and cross-selling them? Sales pitches, of varying intensity and depth, should be taking place on an ecommerce web site.

A Web Developers Virtual Library tutorial on ecommerce shopping cart abandonment "Ecommerce and Usability" by Andrew Starling:

states that up to 30% of ecommerce site shoppers abandon their shopping carts. They selected products to buy, but did not proceed to the order form to actually purchase anything.

Studies have also shown that even when a person is 100% ready to buy, the mentally correct marketing strategy is to Sell Them Again, at least to reinforce their wisdom in deciding to buy your product, and to buy it now.

In fact, some customers, including me sometimes, will view an ecommerce web site to gather product information and price quotes, then go to a bricks and mortar store to wheel and deal with that information as ammunition.

This is a far cry from being a "pre-sold" customer visiting a web site.

Then there's Buyer's Remorse.

"Buyer's Remorse" is the technical term for what Selling The Already Sold Customer overcomes:

**Soon after people buy any product, uncertainty assails them, and they begin to wonder if they made a huge mistake. Most medium to high level purchases are subject to this principle of Buyer's Remorse, while it rarely occurs with the purchase of candy bars or habitual purchases like cigarettes.**

No matter how "pre-sold" any customer is when they walk into your store...or visit your ecommerce web site...they still desire, in most cases, to be reassured.

Reassure your customers about their supposedly "pre-sold" condition. Reassure them that they have indeed made the right decision.

For those customers who really are "pre-sold", provide them with detailed product comparisons to help them determine which product offering is best suited to their needs. Then give them a fast and easy route to ordering the products selected.

Do your best to accommodate each customer type, but don't assume that most are "pre-sold" and don't need any reminders of value, or reassurances that their decision to buy from you is wise.

This is the essence of Mentally Correct Marketing, and one of its most important principles.


EDIT UPDATE (Thursday Feb. 3, 2005 at 11:45PM):

I just got "flamed" on that same forum.

I will not divulge the name of the forum,
nor the name of the flamer.

But here is my response:

[________] asked me to provide sources and
citations for my claims.

How about WDVL web site?

An article on Ecommerce Shopping Cart Abandonment
["Ecommerce and Usability" by Andrew Starling]
at the Web Developer Virtual Library site states:

"...[ecommerce shopping cart abandonment statistics]
are generally reported at around 30%.

You don't see 30% of customers in a real supermarket
abandoning their carts, so why is the figure so high
on the Internet? There are many factors including
security, reliability, and high shipping charges (a
major influence) but another big factor is the
intimidating nature of the Web. It's technical and
lacks human contact."

This is related to my claim that we cannot assum that
visitors who go to ecommerce sites are somehow
"pre-sold" and just seek product details and ordering

That is really a wrong-headed idea.

I stand by my post on Selling the "Pre-sold" Customer
over at Streight Site blog, but thank you for pointing
out the fact that I really should provide links to
reputable sources.

ConsumerWebWatch has reviewed my web sites and found
them to be in compliance with their guidelines for Web
Site Information Credibility, and I am listed on their
site as a company that has pledged to continue to
adhere to these guidelines.

Have you any credentials this good?

I have the advantage of many years experience in
database direct response marketing, and some years as
a web usability analyst and user observation test
designer and administrator.

I'm just a beginner at HTML, XML, network security,
and other web-related issues.

Most of the [_______] list folks could make me look bad
quite easily and quickly on those technical issues,
which I therefore avoid debating.

I'm a tiny wee bit concerned to hear someone I like
and respect, who sent [did me a certain favor],
claim that he has:

"not heard a SINGLE thing contributed to ANY
conversation [I] have joined [er...I start some
conversations, I'm not just a joiner or a lurker]
based on ANYTHING BUT preponderance and speculation."

Search the [_______] archives and see if I merely make
wild statements of pure, unverifiable opinion.


the word means "weighs more than something else" and
yes, my comments on usability, and especially database
direct response marketing do "weigh more" than
comments on this topic from someone who lacks such

I never mean to "bait" or "flame" anyone, but if I
read a statement that in my professional expertise I
consider wrong, or even potentially detrimental, I
will speak out.

---Love and German (not French) Kisses,
Vaspers the Grate

EDIT UPDATE (Friday, Feb.4, 2005 at 10:34 AM)

My beloved flamer had to respond to my [flame response] post in the forum.

Though he's a web designer/developer, he said he went to Consumer Reports WebWatch and was unable to find me listed on their site. I'm not going to take him by the hand and teach him how to navigate a web site.

He asked what on earth is "database direct marketing" and if I'm one of those people that call him on the phone in the middle of his dinner. Well, at least he has a sense of humor. But if he doesn't know what "database direct marketing" is, he should find out for himself.

He insists on mentioning, by first name even, the person whose statement he claim I have horribly mangled, misrepresented, and used in an "inflammatory" manner.

Well, the person said words to the effect (I refrain from giving exact quote, to make it harder to trace, because I don't want to embarrass the person) that visitors to an ecommerce web site are already "pre-sold" and don't need any sales pitch, just details about the product line and instructions on how to order.

He, as many flamers tend to do, avoids direct discussion of the ecommerce and "pre-sold" customers issue. I guess he knows it is indefensible and outrageous.

Instead, he attacks my credentials, my expertise, my supposedly wild speculations. This is a common ploy that I'm used to encountering in online debates.

He also, and I had to chuckle heartily on this one, asked who I was, since all he could see was "a collection of free blogs."

So now he wants a list of all my clients, and all the web sites I've helped to improve via usability analysis and user observation testing? Sorry, he's just not worth the trouble to go into all that. But I could, if I deemed it truly important to do so.

He also has not been initiated into my esoteric faith, what I refer to as the doctrine of Zero Budget Marketing, a slightly revolutionary concept based on:

"What can a company do with zero, or near-zero expenditure of funds? And if a lot can be done with virtually no budget, just think what might be done with decent or merely average funding of a program!"

I will be posting an article soon here on my theory and implementation of Zero Budget Marketing.

As much as I enjoy lively discussion, passionately held beliefs, and dedication to facts obtained via long professional experience and rigorous research work, I feel I should not make any more replies.

Sometimes self-defense and explanation is appropriate. Other times, it just makes you look pathetic and overly concerned about being perceived as "right" about something.

Love and combative generosity,
Vaspers the Grate

EDIT UPDATE (Friday, Feb. 4, 2005 at 11:30 AM)

At the forum, someone expressed his habit of going to ecommerce web sites knowing exactly what product he wants, thus he is "pre-sold".

He was so happy that others are proclaiming that ecommerce web site visitors are "pre-sold". His expression of delight and relief was odd.

Perhaps he has grown to hate sales and marketing. Maybe he's shy and passive, and has been chumped by unscrupulous, slick, aggressive sales people in the past.

Maybe he doesn't know much about sales and marketing, thus resents being told that ecommerce web sites must incorporate such knowledge, knowledge he is not adept at.

Who knows?

He claims, or maybe I should more accurately say, he seems to think perhaps that he is typical of most ecommerce web site visitors.


His anecdotal evidence may be true for him in most of his ecommerce experiences, but I question if his experience is typical for most ecommerce site visitors.

I press this point, because of how important it is for ecommerce site owners to decide upon the expected nature of visitors to their site.

Ecommerce is about intelligent, appropriate sales messages, not "here's our stuff, and here's the order form."

Here's my recent reply to this thread at the online forum...


"Then try this experiment:

Set up an ecommerce site that assumes that *all or
most* visitors are "pre-sold" and need no solid
explanations of the benefits and great features of
your products.

See how profitable it is, compared to another version
of the site that assumes that *all or most* visitors
can bear to be exposed to a stronger, but appropriate,
marketing message explaining or at least listing the
benefits and great features of your products.

This idea of an ecommerce web site being simply a
"digital brochure" or "online catalog" with little or
no marketing or sales strategy is not only old
fashioned presumption, but is largely responsible for
the dot com bust of the 1990s:

...thinking "if I just have an online presence,
customers will flock to it and buy my products

There are many reasons for shopping cart abandonment
and for the fact that most web visitors bail out of a
site within 1-2 page views and within 10 seconds.

But assuming the "pre-sold" nature of web visitors is
a fallacy that contributes to failure."

[NOTE: Now watch them swarm that statement of "bail out of a site within 1-2 page views and within 10 seconds". This will probably offend them as web designers, some of whom can't bear to think of anybody not being awed by their site designs.

If they are typical flamers, they'll attack at what they think is the weakest point of my argument, not knowing all the reputable internet research statistics that support the statements.]

Love and debatable debacles,
Vaspers the Grate

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Any Idiot Can Innovate


What is innovation?

First, consider the fact that the human mind, by intrinsic nature, hates excessive conformity and overbearing tradition. "Variety is the spice of life", they say. It's been proven.

I once ran across a university study that consisted of a tape playing during a party. One word was repeated over and over again. At a certain point, all the people at the party thought a different word was being repeated.

Their minds manufactured variety where none existed.

Sensory deprivation experiments on human subjects produce hallucinations. Where no sensory input exists, the mind manufactures its own.

I will hunt down the actual URLs to verify these facts for you, put them into an EDIT UPDATE at the end of this post, later, so I remain credible in all my statements, and I hope I can easily find links to this info.

But for now, think about how the mind revolts against excessively static environments.

I could go on about this topic, but I don't want your mind to rebel against my repetition of a fact, thus proving my own point in an auto-reflexive boomerang ironic paradox.

This issue of variety has direct bearing on the issue of innovation.

Innovation means:

"different" (i.e., weird)
obvious, but neglected
unfairly rejected
seemingly absurd

ways of satisfying the needs of customers.

Innovation is extremely easy.

Any idiot can innovate. That's right. You heard it here first. It doesn't take a genius to be innovative. It actually requires bravery, independence, anti-medicrity, and a slight touch of silliness sometimes.

This is so important, I'll say it again:

Any idiot can innovate. It's so blasted easy, it's pathetic.

It's like "stealing" candy from a basket with a sign that says, "Free. Help yourself."

Innovation is based on the laws of creativity that have been defined and explained by much more articulate persons than your humble blogger. But allow me to recap two of them:

Creativity: Laws #1 and #2

1. Opposites.

* Tiny boombox televisions to wide screen televisions.

* Sour candy to liquid meat (protein shake drinks).

* Slow static new age drones (Biosphere) to fast techno rave beats (Squarepusher).

* Tight slacks to baggy jeans.

2. New combinations and applications.

* Marketing techniques for churches.

* Text messaging, typing into a telephone.

* Microwaves to heat food and to transmit information from remote control to tv.

* Virtual simulations of musical instruments.

* Pimp bragging to rap music.

* Classical music played on balloons and bicycles (PDQ Bach).

Since I love electonic music, allow me a bit of self-indulgence as I speak briefly about innovative music.

The artist calling himself SQUAREPUSHER (real name, Tom Jenkinson) is a case in point.

All I know is that, according to reviews displayed at the Barnes & Noble web site, Tom Jenkinson, aka SQUAREPUSHER, used to play some variety of jazz music, then shifted into "drums and bass", aka "drills and bass", aka "jungle beat" electronic dance music. Then he evolved into "fragmented break beat", where typical dance club beats are interrupted and distorted.

Now, in his 2002 release, a double CD entitled "Do You Know Squarepusher", he is emulating the pioneers of electro-acoustic music and musique concrete: Vladimir Ussachesky, Edgard Varese, Pierre Henry, Pierre Schaeffer, Stockhausen, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Oskar Sala, etc.

His music still contains elements of "fragmented break beat" and "drill and bass", but some selections are flat out synthesizer violence, shimmering shattering sine waves and oscillation aggressivity, long loud explosive waves of electronic doom.

It's experimenting with the opposite of new age slow chord change/static simplicity type music, and I like "Do You Know Squarepusher" CD a lot.

Some tracks are mellow, murky, strange reverberation music, but most of this CD is frenzied bizzaro splendor, with vocal mutilations and loopy disorientation methodology.

"F-Train" is one track where he seems to be reading a poetic manifesto on action discrepancy, anomoly, telemetry, swans songs colliding, disability, electrocution a digital age beatnick...whilst cool electonic noise swirl overhead and weave in and out like a drunken space shuttle.

The second CD is Alive in Japan July 2001 and it goes nuts with really wild harsh, uncontrolled electronic noise bursts and sound pattern corruptions.

All SQUAREPUSHER did was combine club break beat with early electro-acoustic and musique concrete styles, plus radical noise band aesthetics, add his own personal idiosyncrasies and moods, and voila!-- musical innovation.

In his "Ultravisitor" CD of 2004, he even has a track called "Iambic 9 Poetry" (instrumental) in which soft pretty guitar is accompanied by techno type rhythms...but the beats are played on acoustic drums, with clicking drum sticks together, and NOT with the standard, expected **electronic** drum machines.

This use of acoustic, human hands hitting the skins with wooden sticks type drums, instead of electronic, programmed drum machine modules, is very surprising and a nice turn of events, something different and unthought of.

Different and, until he did it, unthought of. Innovation.

SQUAREPUSHER (Tom Jenkinson) is no idiot.

But neither is he a true, original, rare genius.

Perhaps, in the near future, he shall indeed dazzle us with unimaginable genius.

But for now, his music, as of 2002-2004, is innovation in the musical realm.

If you can think...

If you can dream...

If you can challenge tradition...

If you can turn things
inside out and
upside down...

If you despise mediocrity...

If you like the "weird" and unusual...

If you seek an "edge" over competitors...

If you seek a "refreshment" or
"increased morale" in your firm...

If you want to make a name
for yourself, while providing
new product advances,

for the good
of all mankind...

You CAN innovate!

Get up and innovate something today.